One of the perks of having a blog is getting requests to review interesting new books. I don’t always say yes, but when Asymmetrical contacted me to review The Lateral Freelancer by Saul of Hearts, I was immediately intrigued (partly because of the author’s name!).
For quite some time, I have been thinking a lot about alternatives to our current marketplace, which is primarily dominated by large corporations, the owners and leaders of which don’t necessarily have our (the people’s) best interest in mind. I’ve thought about bartering, fair wages, social businesses, and purpose.
The Lateral Freelancer provides an alternative to working a purposeless job for a company that is only focused on profits, rather than the well-being of the earth and its inhabitants. As Saul says in the preface, “I didn’t want to show up at the same job day-in and day-out, or have to beg for vacation days from an uncompromising boss.”
When Saul graduated from college as a newly-minted videographer, he found that it was really hard to find a job in his field. But he didn’t move back with his parents or settle for an uninspiring 8-5 job. Rather, he found that thanks to technology and the share economy, it’s possible to make a living freelancing in everything. It keeps things interesting and provides space for creativity (and vacation!).
The Lateral Freelancer gives you all the tools you need to join the ranks of Saul and many other lateral freelancers. 80 pages of tips and tools (with links) makes this an invaluable resource to anybody entering the peer-to-peer marketplace.
Saul covers everything from being an Airbnb host to a TaskRabbit. He also cover things like tips for getting paid on time, how to network—laterally, and building confidence. The underlying theme is that anybody can be a lateral freelancer. However, there are some prerequisites that I picked up on:
- It’s easier in a big city, where the service-based sites like TaskRabbit are established and where more people would be looking to rent a space or a ride to the airport. (But I know it can work in small towns too, because I live in one!)
- It requires a simple lifestyle. Saul emphasizes that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. But it’s exciting and fulfilling!
- It’s good to have a smartphone so you can pick up jobs on the go.
Mostly, I think it’s about taking the leap and making it happen (if you think it’s for you).
A Chat with Saul of Hearts
I had the privilege to chat with Saul for about 30 minutes on the phone about his book. Here are a few nuggets (paraphrased):
TG: You say in your book that “My ideal freelance lifestyle includes a healthy mix of intellectual work and manual labor.” Tell me more about that. (I know I find it challenging to be doing intellectual work all day.)
SoH: One of the jobs I have is vegetable delivery. It’s a great opportunity to get away from the computer. While I’m driving, I have a chance to clear my mind. I also have a job packing boxes. I like it because there are fun people working there. I find that having a few days when I get away from my computer and work on something different than what I’m usually doing gives me a more balanced lifestyle.
TG: Do you think people who participate in the peer-to-peer marketplace are in it mostly for financial reasons or also because it’s a more humane way to give and receive services?
SoH: I think a little of both. Airbnb (and similar) people have extra space/assets and it just makes sense for them to rent it out. But a lot of people are also very passionate about those kinds of interactions. Local time banks, etc. What’s nice about these sites is that you can use it for whatever reasons you want.
TG: You write of this way of doing business: “I think of it as a kind of village green that enables us to work for each other instead of corporations.” You also mention that we don’t want to pad “the wallets of big-time CEOs.” In your ideal world, what would the marketplace look like?
SoH: I think that what these sites do is by connecting people directly, we can cut out some of these companies in the middle. A lot of these marketplaces allow you to see people’s reviews directly and that builds trust. We don’t need a corporation to facilitate the transaction. I would like to see more people trading services this way.
TG: You also write: “The Share Economy is dependent on a trust in a way that the real-world economy isn’t.” Tell me more about this.
SoH: I think that typical corporations and ways of doing business give people an anonymity that decreases trust. E.g. call centers. In peer-to-peer marketplaces you’re dealing directly with an individual.
TG: What about health insurance? How does that work into the lateral freelancer plan?
SoH: At this point my insurance is unfortunately out of pocket, but I feel like as more people do this, more opportunities will become available. (For example, health insurance coops.)
TG: Do you think many of us are too distracted and busy to even think about “collaborative consumption?” (E.g. we just started sharing a lawnmower with our neighbors, but it was a conscious effort to establish that relationship.)
SoH: Part of it is making it easier. The economy is driving it in the right direction. If you can’t afford it, you have to share with somebody. A lot of my peers have made the choice to share assets because of the economy.
TG: Our community is very much into bartering (e.g. People’s Time Exchange). I know you mention bartering in the book. What makes you decide to barter vs. charge/pay for something?
SoH: I find that bartering for me has worked especially well when both people are starting a new skill and looking for ways to get their work out there and get more experience.
Saul also mentioned that he has a Pay-What-It’s-Worth option on the e-book. The “suggested” price is $30, but you can manually adjust the price in the shopping cart to whatever works for you (minimum $10). So if you plan to use it as a how-to guide, you can contribute more, but if you’re just curious and want to find out about the share economy, you can pay whatever you can afford.
If I Were a Lateral Freelancer
I think I have the makings of a lateral freelancer and it will happen at some point. Heck, it’s already happening! I’m already providing the following services (as I have time):
- Time management consulting/speaking
- Internet marketing consulting
- Health/Wellness coaching
- Swedish lessons
- Piano lessons
Don’t get me wrong, I have a great job. But isn’t it nice to know that there are options?
Over to You
What are services you could provide? How could you get started as a lateral freelancer?